Ideas, Trends & Twists Shaping the 21st Century.
Young Chinese have grown up in a time of epic change, as China has become more prosperous and powerful, more urban, more educated, more connected with the world through technology, travel, television and more. Chinese have also become more connected with each other, with some 800 million of them online. And despite an ongoing government crackdown on free speech, especially dissent, and even the discussion of Western ideas such as democracy, human rights and rule of law, attitudes and expectations are radically different among young Chinese than for many previous generations in China, in ways that could affect not just China, but the world, in this century.
China's former leader Deng Xiaoping once said that it doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice. A new twist on the theme might be, it doesn't matter if China's leaders are committed environmentalists, or acting in pragmatic self-interest, if China's rapid ramping-up of renewable energy and easing away from coal yields a net benefit of reducing climate change-causing emissions, and helping to slow the rate of climate change. A look at what China is doing and why, as President Donald Trump declares an American retreat from global leadership on climate change
If you wear glasses, you're in a majority in most developed countries. In developing countries, few have them, but many need them. By some estimates, two billion people in developing countries need eyeglasses, but don't have access to them. One of the groups working to bridge the gap is VisionSpring, a social enterprise that has already sold 3.7 million pairs of glasses, at affordable prices, to people in Africa and Asia making $4 or less per day, helping improve learning, work productivity, and quality of life.
Boko Haram hasn't given up, but it's on the ropes after a push by the Nigerian military last year, and vigilance by regional peacekeepers. Also countering their influence is a regional shortwave radio network, Dandal Kura Radio International, started just over a year ago, as the world's first network to broadcast in Kanuri — the language spoken by 10 million people in the region, and by most members of Boko Haram. Anyone with a cellphone can call in and share information and ideas. This plus news, current affairs, radio dramas and other programming has started to help counter Boko Haram's power to attract, and is helping a bruised and fractured region move toward a less fraught future.
A search for meaning is underway in China, after generations grew up with the Communist Party destroying temples and churches, persecuting the religious, and telling the young that religion was the opiate of the masses, and counter-revolutionary to boot. Now, with many Chinese feeling that a moral and ethical center is missing from their increasingly materially comfortable lives, a growing number are seeking meaning in religion and spiritual practice. Host Mary Kay Magistad explores why, in conversation with fellow former China correspondents Ian Johnson, author of "The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao," and Jennifer Lin, author of "Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family."
After decades when democracy was on the rise, the current trend seems to be of aspiring autocrats riding populist waves to power, and then misusing that power to amass wealth for themselves and their families. Forget what President Donald Trump says about journalists being the "Enemy of the People," says Drew Sullivan, head of the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project — investigative reporting has never been more important.
After decades of institutionalized racism under apartheid, South Africa's Truth & Reconciliation Commission helped a divided nation watch, weep, reflect & come together — even if imperfectly. What is its legacy now, two decades later? How much of the hope South Africans had for what their future might be together has been borne out? Host Mary Kay Magistad visited South Africa to see how South Africans from different communities feel about what difference the TRC has, and hasn't, made in their lives.
Memory can be slippery, especially when there's incentive to forget, or misremember. In the Polish village of Jedwabne, residents long said Nazis were responsible for the massacre, one hot day in July 1941, of hundreds of Jews in the village. Then evidence emerged that the villagers of Jedwabne had killed their own neighbors.
Get a good education, and the world's your oyster, right? Not necessarily, if you're a woman in Jordan. While Jordan has one of the highest female literacy rates in the Middle East, and there are more women in college there than men, gender discrimination still abounds in the workplace. This is not just costing women, it's costing Jordan — half to almost a full percentage point of GDP growth each year, says the Brookings Institution. What's at play here? Jordanian lawyer and human rights activist Asma Khader shares her thoughts with The World's Shirin Jaafari.
Drones and robotics, and their potential uses, are advancing faster than policy and the human moral compass can easily keep up. How and when best to use these technologies in conflict and law enforcement, for strategic gain and to minimize loss of life? What crosses the line? Peter Singer, New America Foundation strategist and author of "Wired for War," weighs in.
America's global leadership over the past century hasn't always been perfect, but it's usually been respected. That may be changing under President Trump. But the new US president's words and actions are also mobilizing those who have a different idea of what makes America great, and who don't want to see it disappear.